Macaws: An endangered species, the Macaw is an exceptional parrot, much appreciated for its extraordinary intelligence and its familiarity with humans. Of the 14 species of wild macaws recorded in tropical America, more than half are on the verge of extinction.
That said, the macaws that you can keep at home come from specialized farms, which must provide you with guarantees of legal origin. Very expensive, Macaws are also demanding, requiring a significant investment of time to keep them company, distract them and perfect their training. This is the reason why Swiss legislation provides for prior authorization for the keeping of this species of parrot.
There is no denying it, the Macaw is a magnificent bird, whether for its look or its unusual character. Unfortunately, this large parrot of the Psittacinae subfamily is a victim of its own success… It is indeed a prime target for poachers, which places it in the category of endangered birds. Today, the Spix’s Macaw has completely disappeared from its natural environment.
There are also several species of farmed macaws intended for private keeping, the best known being Lear’s macaw, Scarlet macaw, Hahn’s Macaw, blue and gold macaw, and the military macaw. If they are so appreciated by bird lovers, it is mainly because of their exceptional beauty, but also their intelligence… which leads us to tell you about the character of the Macaw.
Swiss legislation imposes prior authorization for the detention of macaws, their breeding being very demanding. Indeed, since the Ordinance of April 23, 2008, on the protection of animals, authorization is necessary for the context of the detention of Macaws (but also large Cockatoos) on a private basis.
If the regulations in Switzerland are so strict when it comes to having macaws at home, it is because of the particular character of parrots. Being very sociable, these birds only flourish if they live in groups. Thus, Swiss legislation does not allow keeping a macaw or another parrot alone.
To guarantee the well-being of the Macaws, the sailboats must be fitted out so that they can live normally, and exercise their favorite activities (flying, climbing, bathing, etc.). Again, Swiss legislation takes into consideration the behavior and needs of parrots. In the wild, they like to climb and can fly very fast. They must therefore be able to continue to do so in detention, hence the requirements for fitting out sailboats. Finally, to be healthy, Macaws need to follow a suitable diet.
Macaws have physical (but also behavioral, we will come back to this) characteristics that are unique to them. The first characteristic that jumps out is the size of the bird: the Macaw is the largest parrot in the Psittacinae subfamily. Another surprising characteristic: like other large parrots, the macaws lifespan is very long, ranging from 30 to 70 years! As for its appearance, the Macaw sports a magnificent plumage with bright and varied colors, a long tail, and a very powerful beak, which it uses to nibble, climb, crush objects and maintain its plumage.
Macaws are very intelligent, very sociable parrots with a particularly playful character. We are talking here about farmed macaws, and not about birds that live in the wild, however few they may be… The latter are on the contrary aggressive toward humans, whom they consider predators. potential.
Because they are sociable, Macaws quickly become attached to their master, on whom they become highly dependent. It is precisely for this reason that Swiss legislation requires prior authorization for the keeping of this species of parrot.
On a personal level, you must assess your ability to keep the Macaw company, to distract it, and to educate it before you start. If you feel able to give this parrot a lot of time, especially to perfect his training, he will reward you with his speed of learning sounds and, very quickly, he will be able to repeat words.
Under optimal living conditions, the Macaw turns out to be one of the most beautiful and intelligent birds in the world. On the other hand, if he lacks care and distraction, and in the event of mistreatment or loneliness, he becomes stressed and adopts aggressive behavior. In addition, remember that the Macaw lives a very long time (up to 70 years!). This exceptional longevity should encourage you to think carefully before adopting this parrot, which is often the victim of abandonment, precisely because of its lifespan.
If the purchase price of this parrot seems out of reach, don’t panic, there is an alternative to breeding Macaws. We told you, the macaws are quite often abandoned. Due to their longevity, Macaws usually outlive their owners. You can therefore adopt an abandoned Macaw, which has the triple advantage of costing you less, than adopting an already adult parrot that does not have as many years left to live, while giving the bird a second life.
The diet of macaw parrots is mainly composed of seeds, fruits, nuts, and vegetables. There are some nuances from one species to another, some with particular preferences, such as those for the Paranà pine nuts of the Spix’s Macaw, or the ampullary of the Hyacinth Macaw. Broadly speaking, the diet of the Macaw is similar to that of other species of parrots: mixtures of seeds, fruits, and vegetables, extruded or granulated sprouted seeds…
Due to its imposing size, but also its propensity to climb and fly in the wild, the Macaw cannot live in a cage in detention. This large parrot needs a sailboat big enough to keep it flying. You will understand, if you want to adopt a macaw parrot, you must necessarily have a garden.
In Switzerland, the Ordinance on the protection of animals (OPAn) imposes minimum requirements on the sailboats of Macaws, and other species of parrots more broadly, the aim being to allow these birds to exert themselves as they like. To get an idea of the space requirements, you can consult the general public notice “Parrots in animal protection law”, which presents examples of calculations. The OPan goes further by imposing:
- the installation of a tank in the sailboat so that the macaws can bathe;
- natural branches that allow parrots to climb;
- various soft perches of different thicknesses;
- sand that can be absorbed by birds;
- Enclosures that can be subdivided.
In conclusion, remember that the Macaw not only has requirements in terms of space and care but also in terms of the attention that you absolutely must give it. Also remember that this bird lives a very long time, a factor that you must consider before you start.